One of the most common misconceptions about travel is that it is expensive. In fact one of the most frequent responses we get when we tell people we are taking a gap year to travel is “How can you afford that?” The most likely reason for this is how people define travel.

They may be considering their own style of travel, where they pay anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars for airfare alone. Tack on another hundred per night for accommodation and that week long vacation at the beach quickly adds up (and that doesn’t even include food or activity expenses).

But if you change the way you think about travel you might realize travel can be very affordable.

THE KEY IS FLEXIBILITY

One if the easiest ways to reduce the cost of travel is to be flexible with your style of travel. The more open you are when it comes to the destination, dates, and activities the cheaper travel can be.

Instead of going during peak tourist season, go during the off-season.

Instead of going to Hawaii, consider a beach closer to home.

Or maybe ditch the hotel and book an apartment on Airbnb to find the perfect price point. (And if that is still too expensive, you could always stay on someone’s couch for free!)

HOW TO SAVE A TRAVEL FUND

To help save a travel fund for our gap year, we are making money several different ways. Taking just a few of these tips into consideration can help save money quicker than you may think!

1. Pick up a part time job: If you have some spare time outside of your weekly routine, think about picking up a part-time job. By sacrificing a few hours a week to pick up a couple shifts it’s easy to grow that travel fund. Just make sure you commit to saving what you earn for your next trip!

So far this summer, Brad has saved over $1,800 dollars working at his old lifeguarding job. The time spent vacuuming the pool, power-washing the deck, and watching people swim is well worth the trips we can take with the money. With another 100 hours scheduled over the next two weeks, Brad is set to make another $1,000 before summer is over!

2. Do some freelance work: If you aren’t interested in picking up a part-time job, consider earning money by utilizing a unique skill of yours on a freelance basis. Regardless of your talents, there is bound to be someone looking for help doing what you are good at. Maybe it is writing articles for a publication, helping a small business with their social media, or taking photos at an upcoming event.

With a degree in Graphic Design, Leslie plans to pick up freelance opportunities over the next year to fund our trips. Most recently she made a couple hundred dollars redesigning the Hershey’s Mill Pool website (the same pool Brad works at part-time).

Leslie did freelance web design to save a travel fund

All the way from wireframing,

Leslie did freelance web design for Hershey Mills Pool to save a travel fund

to completion!

3. Sell stuff you don’t use anymore: While you may not have extra cash, you are bound to have a few possessions around the house you could do without. Not only can selling them help you earn money, but it can also help de-clutter your living space!

To sell your possessions, have a yard sale one weekend or if you don’t have time (or space) to have a yard sale, try some local buy/sell groups on Facebook. In just a few weeks we made $575 on local yard sale groups selling 20 items like our flatscreen TV and mini fridge from college and some antiques from our parent’s houses (with their permission of course!)

Sell stuff you don’t use anymore to save a travel fund

$25 for a set of Longaberger mugs here,

Sell stuff you don’t use anymore to save a travel fund

$50 for a TV we no longer need there.

4. Trade gift cards for cash: Do you have any gift cards lying around that you received for your birthday a few years back? Ask friends and family if they plan on making any purchases in the near future at the stores you have gift cards for. More often than not people are happy to give you the full credit to help you out since they would be spending the cash anyway (and if not, then ask for a little less than what’s left on the card).

Last semester Brad won $150 in Amazon gift cards for being the top team in his class for the Google Online Marketing Challenge. Instead of using it to buy products, he gave them to his brother for the same amount of credit in cash.

Sell gift cards you don’t want to save a travel fund

You’re bound to have a few gift cards lying around the house that friends or family would buy from you

5. Set aside the cash you get for holidays/your birthday: Do you have a birthday coming up or is Christmas around the corner? How about graduation? Next time you get a card from friends or family, set the cash aside for your next trip (just make sure to write them a thank you card!)

keep graduation gifts to save a travel fund

6. Save those coins: As the old saying goes, a penny saved is a penny earned. That change you got when you went out for lunch last week might not seem like a lot, but when you consider all the lunches over a few months it adds up. So start saving those coins and even pick up the ones you see on the street (we have no shame!)

Leslie’s dad has been saving his change for a few years and to our surprise he donated them all to our travel fund! All we had to do was take quick trip to the bank and have it counted. When it was all said and done the changed was worth $896.78, which we deposited directly into our travel fund!

Keep change in a jar to save a travel fund

Leslie’s dad gave use coins he had saved for years,

keep coins to save a travel fund

which turned out to total $896.78!

7. Open a checking account: Since you’re saving money for a travel fund you might as well have a place to put it! Sure, you could put it in you’re current bank account, but why do that if the bank will PAY YOU to put it in a new checking account?

Many banks have point promotions to entice people to open a checking account with them. For example: Brad opened a new checking account for our travel fund and automatically received 25,000 points, which can be redeemed for $250 cash or spent directly on travel. With no monthly fees or a minimum balance, there is no reason not to open a new account!

Open a bank account to save a travel fund

We ended up making $250 just by opening a new checking account!

Not everyone has the option to travel whenever or wherever they want, but the sooner you start planning the better off you will be. Besides saving on the cost of the trip, planning early gives you more time to save for your trip!

Are there other ways you save money for your trip? If so, let us know in the comment section below!